Guess where I went today?
If you guessed seaside - you're wrong. If you guessed prison (as suggested by the title) - you're right!!!
Just to clarify: I didn't do anything wrong! I promise!
The company I work for runs another office from within a prison, employing inmates. They work for us and get trained up in order to give them some prospects for when they get out and there's always a chance for them to stay with our company after they've been released. There's a team of guys in there that I work with, so I try to meet up with them on a regular basis to get an update on how things are going, and believe you me the work they are carrying out and the expertise they have gained are excellent.
When I first started my job, over three years ago, I found the thought of working with murderers, drug dealers, robbers and so on quite intimidating but once I got introduced to them and entered the office I totally forgot I was inside a prison. Everyone seemed so polite and friendly, the office looked like a normal office and the daily working routine (apart from the obvious strictness and regulations) was just like in any other office: people on computers, using internet and email, on important direct calls or conference call to colleagues, clients or suppliers, actual client meetings in there - I must say I was impressed, and now it's all totally normal to me.
Anyway, today I was more than impressed as I found out that prisoners that got life sentences are allowed a little garden in there, and one of the guys I work with proudly showed me his today. Oh my god, I am so ashamed of my own garden! His was arranged in the most beautiful and ornamental way - shaped like a sun with a round centre and trapeze shaped beds coming of it with pretty gravel and tiny wooden fences around it ... and you should have seen how tidy it was, not a single sign of weeds and all the plants looked so healthy and well looked after. In his little garden he was growing fruit and veg - I mean how great is that? He had strawberries, beans, sweetcorn and all sorts growing in there. That really reminded me that I must get on with my own garden this weekend.
There are obviously no cameras or phones allowed inside a prison, so I can't show you any pics of his "allotment" as he kept calling it. All the pictures on this post are from official press releases and I decided to blur the faces of everyone featured in the images as they are my colleagues and I wouldn't like to expose them, although if you'd like be be nosy you can probably see all of these and more in Google images as they were featured in quite a few newspapers and magazines. There has been quite a lot of publicity about us working with offenders, so here's a link to an article published back in April, and one to a more recent one from the Financial Times.
For all of you who are interested, here are a few pics from inside the prison: